Re: Alex's gibbon-like CA

David Froehlich (
Thu, 16 Nov 1995 14:46:01 -0600

On 16 Nov 1995, Thomas Clarke wrote:

> Continuing in my metascientific musings about PA.
> First David says:
> > Just because you cannot think of a manner in which this could have
> > occured doesn't mean that it is impossible.
> Which is frankly an apology for not yet having a good explanation
> for something in a theory he likes.

Bullshit! I was commenting that you (or whoever I was talking to) was
incorrect in assuming a hypothesis or model was the only one possible since
you (or they) could not come up with another explanation. This is just
like the optical mineralogy prof I had who did not believe plate
tectonics because he could not see how it could happen (despite the
evidence). I have always thought (and continue to think) that this is
more of problem of the persons mind rather than a problem with the theory.

> David then goes on:
> > ... testability and predictive power of
> > hypotheses is the problem.
> When discussing a theory he does not like.
> Do I detect a contradiction?
> Without explanation there can be no prediction. Without prediction
> no testability. Hence the theory he likes is subject to the same
> objections he applies to the theory he doesn't like.

You totally misrepresent my statement. If a theory is not testable then
how are you going to know if you are correct or incorrect? Let me answer
this for you. You will not!!! If a theory makes no testable predictions
or all predictions that it makes are demonstrably true before the
development of the theory and the theory is unnecessary (e.g., Lucy was
found in fluvial environments, the way to "prove" AAS could not happen is
to find a non-fluvial hominid, despite the fact that virtually all
fossils are found in fluvial settings) then the theory is useless. I
merely stated that AAS makes no usefull predictions (the above example is
one of the useless predictions), provides no great new understanding of
the data, and indeed does not conform to the data. So why bother?

In reply to your comment about theories I do not like, I don't really
care about hominid evolution. I just hate bad science and feel that if
foolishness on s.a.p. is not corrected then some people will take that
follishness as correct. AAS is just to perfect an example to resist.

David J. Froehlich Phone: 512-471-6088
Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory Fax: 512-471-5973
J.J. Pickle Research Campus
The University of Texas, Austin, Texas 78712